Part 5. Dropping out of a race for the first time in my life, right before the Atacama Race

Just 3 weeks before the Atacama race.

I am not sure why, but somehow I FLASH-CLICKed a race called “The Okinawa Main Island 315km Roundtrip Marathon”.

(“FLASH-CLICK” means to randomly register to races in a flash before thinking about the consequences)

It’s a race that goes around the Okinawa main island in three days, 315km.

For three days, you have to run 100km per day.

A normal reader is probably thinking, “This guy is an idiot – or maybe crazy”, which is absolutely right.

Moreover, the race office announced:

“Although this is our first race, please think of it as a pre-race. (Meaning: We aren’t sure what exactly will happen!)”

The race was so roughly planned that the actual distance turned out to be 324km instead of 315km, because of measuring mistakes.

“Well, this is going to be fun!!”

The longest race I had experienced was the 250km run in 48 hours called “Hagi Ohkan Maranic”.

This time it was 324km in 3 days / 2 nights – compared to the Hagi race which was 250km without sleep.

Even though the environment was completely different, if I was able to complete this race, I would be able to gain a lot of confidence for the Atacama.

On the second day of the Okinawa Main Island Roundtrip 315/324km.

Slowly I felt a dull pain in my right leg.

The pain increased so much that I wasn’t even able to walk. At the 165km point, it finally happened.

I, the guy who completed dozens of full marathons and 100/250km races, retired a race, for the first time in my life.

Yup. I reported my drop out from the race on Facebook with a smile on my face and an Orion Beer in my hand.

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But inside, I was feeling this extreme sense of failure, and moreover, I became concerned about the Atacama 3 weeks later.

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(The taping right after dropping out the race. It was painful just to walk!)

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After that, I spent days trying various types of treatment to recover.

“I’m going to run a team race in Atacama. If one of us drops out, then the entire team drops out. If I am not able to race or have to drop out because of the injury, everything would be over…”

During my 3.5 years of running experience, I was always struggling with injuries. A guy who didn’t do any exercises at all suddenly started to run like crazy. There was no way I could avoid them.

But through those experiences, I was able to gain a sense of how many days a certain injury would take to recover.

“This time, I will probably recover in time for Atacama in 3 weeks. But I will have additional treatments, just in case..”

Going through various treatments and doing stretches, it was only one week till the Atacama Desert race.

Somehow Shin, Kuro and I were accepted to race the “Tokyo Marathon.”

Remember, this was only one week before the race where we were trying to become No.1 in the world.

If situations were normal, I would probably choose not to race at all…

But I did.

“I’m going to race too! Obviously, we have to do it in costumes!!”

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(Eating beef bowls at Yoshinoya the morning of the Tokyo Marathon. From left, Rikimaru the pilot, me, and Shin. All mature adults about to become 40.)

“My legs should have recovered by now. If I’m able to run the Tokyo Marathon, I would be able to run 250km in the desert one week later, right?”

But, reality doesn’t go so smoothly.

As soon as I started, the leg trouble began again.

“Oh crap…”

I dropped out at the 20km point, giving Atacama the priority.

This time, I wasn’t afraid of dropping out since I had done it before.

Staff of Tokyo Marathon: “Are you dropping out? I will guide you to the bus”

Me: “No thank you. My house is around here, so I will run home”

Staff: “What? Can you run?!”

Me: “Yes, I will run home in this radish costume. Sorry for the trouble, but thank you for your assistance.”

That was the second time in my life that I dropped out of a race.

I had to go to China for a business trip several hours after the Tokyo Marathon, so if I finished the race at a slow pace, I wouldn’t have made my flight anyway.

But still, the fact that I dropped out of two races before the Atacama made me feel extremely uneasy.

After all, we were aiming for world No.1 in the team race!

Only 7 more days left until the Atacama Desert Race.

(Continue to Part 6)